Wise men say, it’s a labor of love…
I turned 41 this past August. GASP!! It wasn’t a fun realization but time marches on. At times I feel like time marches ON me, but that is a discussion I’ll save for my psychiatrist, or as I call him, “Hey bartender, another round of tequila!” Ah, the joys of self-medication… see, last year when I turned 40, it wasn’t the big celebration I had imagined. I pictured a massive whole pig cookout, all the homies chillin’, kids running around, music bumpin’, you know…the whole “F*uck it 40” party I had envisioned since I turned 30. When I was a kid, I couldn’t picture my life past 20…40 was a big deal…but, instead of a blowout, my yard was tore up with a landscaping project, my birthday took place in the middle of the week, and I didn’t foresee a way to get everyone together in a yard filled with holes and lawn equipment. Suffice it to say, I did flat out nothing on my 40th. I bought a bottle of my favorite wine, went home, cooked cashew chicken lettuce wraps and called it a night. The same anti-climactic thing happened when I turned 21. I didn’t get a 21 run. My boy J took me to a local bar and we had a couple Coronas. That was it. No 21 shots, no big party, just us hanging out in a bar, legally, for the first time. And that was cool with me. Sometimes just taking time to be with a good friend is all you need. Now, I had been into dive bars in the past with this ID my friend gave me. The guy in the photo was like 5’10” and 200lbs compared to my 5’7” 130lb self, but hey it worked! Now, let’s talk about the present. For those who know me, going small is not my thing. I don’t like to throw small get-togethers unless I’m forced to. I like to blow up the spot with hella food, booze, family and friends, music that’s too loud…maybe my shirt stays on…maybe it doesn’t…who knows? But!! We’re gonna find out!! That’s just how I get down. So when I turned 41 I decided I wanted to get back to those roots and at least do something big-ish. It was kind of hard since we just had a family member pass and that weekend was the last of the Novenas and everyone was tired from all the emotion and work that comes along with burying a loved one. But it was Labor Day weekend, I felt we were all due some kind of release (I think the 25 cent word is catharsis) so I decided to do a cookout and invite the whole famn damily over. I have a big enough kitchen and a karaoke machine so it just felt natural for me…eat, get tipsy, make ass of self…makes sense, right? It felt like the thing to do. So….here is what I did…
Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Beef
- 1 whole brisket
- BBQ dry rub that you like (can’t tell you mine’s)
- Squirt bottle filled with equal parts water, sprite, vinegar
I don’t eat a lot of red meat. I wasn’t raised around great cuts of steak. I was raised with parents who bought economical cuts and tried to make it work. I think my dad would buy and grill stew meat so my memories of steak are fatty, chewy clods of meat that took too long to chew and left you with jaw and teeth cramps, however impossible that sounds. However, I love, love, love brisket! But, it takes 12-14 hours to cook one right. You have to clear your schedule. Basically get the smoker between 225 and 250, while it heats up, trim the brisket of all the fat you want, rub it down and when the smoker is up to temp, place in the smoker. Every 2 hours open the lid and spray the brisket with the squirt bottle. Now, a brisket is done once the internal temp hits 190 degrees F, but I don’t use thermometers anymore, I try to let my Spidey Senses guide me. Hasn’t failed me in years and I’m ok with that . Once it’s done, pull from the smoker and let rest for half an hour, separate the flat from the point (you may want to YouTube that concept) and slice against the grain. It’s that easy! In just 14 short hours, or almost 2 whole work days, you can have a perfect, tender hunk of beef! Hooray!!
I did 2 kinds of BBQ sauces. First was a savory A1 based BBQ sauce that was not sweet since I don’t like sweet sauces on beef. The second was a cherry BBQ sauce for those who do prefer sweet. Now, in true BBQ fashion, I can’t tell you the recipe but I can give you hints. ..come to think of it…BBQ cooks are like pirates…they keep the secret to their treasure hidden and only give you enough clues to drive you crazy. But hey that’s ARRRRRR-ight by me!
Top of the Heap A Number 1
- A1 Steak sauce
- Fancy mustard
- Other natural ingredients
Oh Cherry Oh Baby
- 1 can sweet cherries
- Apple cider vinegar
- Other natural ingredients
Damn, what else did I do???
If I say “bacon” 3 times will it appear?
- 1lb bacon
- 3 boxes of Kraft mac n cheese
- 2 cups shredded cheddar
- 1 cup shredded mozarrella
- 1 cup cream cheese
First, slice up the bacon into small bits and cook in a medium frying pan over high heat until crispy, remove from frying pan, then set aside. Next, cook the mac n cheese how the box tells you to. Once you start to make the cheese sauce, follow the box directions except add in all the other cheeses then once melted, throw in the bacon and fold in the macaroni.
Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit
- 3 cans of pinto beans
- BBQ sauce (any kind you like)
- ½ diced onion
Ok so truth be told, this is not my 100% recipe. I make my own BBQ sauces and I mix it up a bit with other stuff. But like the jerk I am, I will only give you the basics, the rest is up to you. Or think of me more like a guide along your spiritual culinary quest….I cannot give you the answers, I can only shine a light on the path which is yours to undertake…very metamucil, no? Ok so, in a medium pot, over high heat just saute the onions in a pat of butter until they are soft and clear, reduce heat to medium, toss in the beans and add enough sauce to give it flavor but not be too overpowering. Gently fold the beans so you don’t smash any. Once the beans are warm, remove from heat.
Ready to Get Dirty?
- 3 cups jasmine rice
- 4 whole chicken livers
- 2 Andalloius sausages (I can’t spell this right)
- 2 tbsp chicken stock (go find the brand Better than Bullion)
This is how I was taught to make dirty rice…First, dice up the chicken liver until it looks like paste. Next cut up the sausages into small chunks. Heat a medium frying pan on high heat and cook the liver for about 4 minutes. Add in the sausage and cook until the livers are done, about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In a rice cooker, add the rice and fill with 3 cups of water, add in the stock and stir until it dissovles. Add in the cooked meat, stir a couple times so it mixes, and turn on the rice cooker.
Holy crap, am I forgetting anything? Oh, last thing…..
Everything is Bigger in Texas….Even the Toast
- 1 bag of texas toast
- 1 stick melted butter
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. While that heats place the butter in a bowl and melt in the microwave, about 30-40 seconds. When the oven is heated place the bread on a cookie sheet and with a brush or spoon, spread the butter over the bread. Place in the oven until the bread is toasted, about 5-10 minutes.
So, umm…yeah…that is about all that I cooked. If you think reading it took a long time, just imagine making all this! It’s what I call a straight up labor of love. At the end of all this, my reward was a badass bottle of Japanese Whiskey and belting out Air Supply’s greatest hits on karaoke. So, if you try this at home, good luck! Take your time with it, and be patient. You can’t be impatient and expect good BBQ, like an umbrella with a hole, it just doesn’t work. Ok y’all, until next time, be cool.
OK, so I will give you another clue….
Like a good punk rock song, 3 chords, 3 ingredients
So you said only 14 hours eh?
7 hours and still going….
Pretty in pink.
14 hours later…
Oh crap! I forgot I made corn too!!